6-year School Board Terms Excessive

Due to a law recently passed by the state legislature, school board elections must now be held in November on even years.  The Novi schools board currently holds its elections yearly, so a change to their bylaws must be made to accommodate this.

There are currently 3 options on the table:

  1. Continue with 4-year terms thus having 4 seats up one election and 3 the next
  2. Increase the terms to 6 years thus having 3 seats up one election, then 2 in each of the next 2 elections
  3. Have mixed 4/6 year terms thus having 3 seats available each election cycle. Highest vote-getter receives 6-year term, while 2nd and 3rd place vote-getters receive 4-year terms.

A number of board members have stated that they will not support the 4-year term option, as they are uncomfortable with the possibility of 4 seats (a majority) changing hands at one time.  But why?  Our City Council has 4 seats up for grabs every election without issues. Even with that, no one I’ve spoken to at the City Hall can even remember the last time 4 seats changed hands.

Extending terms to 6 years seems self-serving and will make it less appealing for good candidates to run.  In fact, those considering a two-term run (as most do), would be committing to 12 years.  Currently, state representatives serve no more than a total of six years (three 2-year terms), while state senators serve no more than eight (two 4-year terms).

Each current board member has at one time entrusted us to vote them in office. Why is it that they can’t trust us to do the right thing when 4 seats up for grabs?

Extending terms to 6 years based on unfounded fears does nothing more than take power away from the electorate.

Definitions matter in sex education

The Novi Board of Education recently approved a new and expanded Sex Education curriculum.  I’m a bit perplexed, though, by the final definition of the word “abstinence” used by the district in what is supposed to be an abstinence-based curriculum.

In a previous meeting, many board members expressed concerns with different portions of the curriculum content.  One specific area revolved around the inconsistency of this definition and how it would be taught.

Initially, the curriculum included a document titled “So What’s an Abstinence Anyway?”  In it, students were asked to select which specific acts (from a list of 15) they believed they could engage in and still be abstinent.  Understandably, school board members asked that this be taken out.

After some investigating, I found that “abstinence” will be defined as “choosing not to have sexual intercourse (oral, anal or vaginal sex).”

This definition is extremely narrow, especially for a public school curriculum.  It will do nothing more than make a mockery of this choice and is counterproductive to the expectations most parents have for their children.

I’m somewhat disappointed that the school district conducted two public forums on this sensitive topic, encouraged parents to come in and evaluate the curriculum binder, and then late in the game changed and approved this definition.

Defining abstinence as “choosing not to engage in sexual activity” would have been more appropriate.  Then, parents could help define it as broad or narrow as they see fit.  And if they decide to limit it to those 3 acts, then so be it.

During last Thursday’s meeting, one board member asked: “How does a classroom teacher handle a question about a specific sexual activity that’s outside of the stated definition (whether it’s permissible or not permissible)?”  Answer:  “Typically, we’ll say that’s something you’ll need to ask your parent or another trusted adult.”

So parents, should your child ask you whether engaging in other sexual activities would still allow them to be abstinent, be prepared to clean up the mess this part of the curriculum leaves behind.

Proposed Sex Ed curriculum slightly off target

On Thursday night, our school board is scheduled to vote on whether to adopt a new sexual education curriculum, one that goes well beyond what is required by state mandate.

While this may not be overly problematic, there are certain topics that are better left for parent and religious leader to discuss. For example, a section in the curriculum (written by Planned Parenthood) forces the discussion of which sexual acts one can engage in and still be abstinent. Since “abstinence” is being defined as not engaging in activities that can cause pregnancy, some students might be left with the impression that all other activities are permissible.

Discussions surrounding the Plan-B pill might also takes us into some very murky waters.

With a bit more tweaking, this can become a program that a larger majority of parents can embrace. Unfortunately, many who don’t fully support the current direction are simply being told to opt-out their children. This is your school district; let your elected officials know how you feel.

Snow Days

February’s “Presidents Day” passed with another “tough” snow fall in the Metro Area. Similar to a Sunday snow fall and freeze in December, it turned into a prolonged road clearing. Novi was able to get back to normal sometime on Tuesday. (2 days into the work week). Novi residents were asked to take solace that other communities took longer and needed assistance to make roads passable. But is this the competition we should be focusing on?

Consider this. Employers in the Metro area typically hire from many of the surrounding communities and expect those employees to have a safe passage to work daily. Novi companies, hire from Livonia, Farmington and Plymouth, and vice versa. When this area competes for new jobs versus other regions, our area snowfalls are NOT a competitive advantage. In fact, southern communities even as close as Cincinnati use lack of snow as a competitive advantage over the Detroit area. The relative low ranking of this region in mass transit increases the critical need for effective road snow removal.

Meanwhile, virtually every community in the region has cut back on their weekend snow removal commitments. DPS officials in Novi and other cities have taken on a roll as “Meteorologists” or weather men before deploying snow crews on weekends. They now not only need to coordinate the resources to clear roads, but they must accurately forecast the ever changing Michigan weather. How many of us would welcome this added responsibility to our jobs? Yet we somehow reason that Mother Nature can have a 5 day 40 hour week restriction since monetary resources are tight.

It is clear that government cuts are necessary in this economic environment. Is this really the cut we need to make as we work to rebuild our region? Should a weekend snow storm create a Monday and Tuesday “Snow Day”?

International Baccalaureate – Another Viewpoint

Last week, the Novi News headline story titled “High school’s IB program drawing rave reviews” was nothing more than a puff piece for a costly school program.  While I concede that many of the International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates are excited with the program, this hardly reaches a level of district-wide “rave”.

The story states that this program has “excitement throughout the district.”  How exactly is that measured and how truly significant are those numbers?  I’d certainly like to see some metrics, as I’ve always suspected the demand level has been exaggerated.

Quotes about IB students tending to have “better college acceptance rates” or “better ACT/SAT scores” are simply nonsense.  There are no studies to show that.  Students who enroll into the IB diploma program are already highly achieving and would excel no matter what classes they took. Continue reading ‘International Baccalaureate – Another Viewpoint’

Manar is passionate about Novi Schools

Every time I watch a school board meeting, I see JASON MANAR in the audience. He has attended just about every school board meeting, committee meeting and workshop over the past six months. He knows and understands the issues that face the Novi Community School District. He has the passion, dedication and desire to make a difference in our classrooms.

It is for these reasons that I’m voting for JASON MANAR on November 2 to serve as the newest Trustee on the Novi Board of Education.

Manar’s qualifications are very impressive. He is a former Special Education Teacher and has served on the 2010 Novi Budget Guidance Committee. He is also a law enforcement professional, so he understands the importance of making sure our students learn in a safe and secure environment.

With eight months remaining before our current school administration is replaced, it’s important that we have another individual on the board who will demand accountability and won’t be shy of asking tough questions.

I’ve met Jason, and he truly offers the type of independent, critical thinking that would be an asset to the Novi Board of Education. That is why I ask you to join me in voting for JASON MANAR on November 2, 2010.

Help keep Novi Schools afloat.
Vote YES on Sinking Fund Renewal

The Novi School district uses it’s Sinking Fund to cover the expense of maintaining and upgrading school facilities. The use of this fund is restricted for these purposes only and cannot be used for any operational expenses (including teachers salaries and benefits).

More info on this can be found HERE

As this is a renewal, it WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR TAXES. I strongly support this measure and ask for your support on November 2nd.

2010 Lions – Kings “off” the Road

OopsWell the 2000-2009 Lions have added a new tough history in the record books. The Decade started with Marty “the Bar is High” Mornhinweg, and ended by setting the Bar very low. Their .260 decade will be tough for generations of NFL teams to beat as will be 0-16 and the record 2 year ineptitude of 2-26.

So now we face optimism a new! The Kings of August have gone 3-1 (they are 10-2 over the last 3 pre-seasons, 9-39 for real) and we are looking at playoffs? Why does Jim Mora come to mind? If you plan on seeing the Lions in the NFL playoffs soon you better charge the Flux Capacitor in the old DeLorean.

KingWhile Stafford looks much improved and will hopefully make folks forget Mr. Harrington there’s a lot of distance between two years of winless Division play and a Wild Card slot. And then there’s the schedule. Detroit plays 8 games against last years play off teams. You can bet those teams fans have the Lions game as an “easy “W”. No NFL team plays more of last years winners.

Along with the luggage carried into the new decade, the Lions own a 20 game road losing streak. This challenges the NFL record of 24 set by the 2000-2003 Detroit Lions. So the 2010 Lions are challenged just as they were 10 years earlier. Hello Deja Vu and for 2010 . . .

THE 2010 Detroit LIONS-
– – On the Road Again.

The opening day road game in Chicago is the best chance to break the road streak and avoid tieing the NFL record of 24. The next “easiest” opponent is Buffalo. A loss in the opener and that could be the record breaking 25th.

The 2010 Defense will depend upon an improved line to help a Defensive backfield that had the second worst statistics in NFL history last year. (Of course the worst stats in NFL history belonged to the 2008 Lions). The secondary features speed, youth and inexperience with 3 rookies on the roster.

WillyThe high water mark for this edition of the Detroit Lions includes improving the home record to .500 (4 wins) and that one elusive road victory. Too pessimisstic for you? That Home record will require a defeat of at least one of those last year playoff squads.

So in 2010 happiness is 5-11.

The 2010 honorary captain is Willie Nelson. And for those with the DeLorean ready, here’s Willie as he looked the last time the Lions were a force in the NFL.

Novi Representatives Disappoint on Smoking Ban

Today, the state House voted 75-30 and the state Senate voted 24-13 to ban smoking in workplaces including bars and restaurants.

According to the following LINK, both Senator Nancy Cassis and Representative Hugh Crawford voted in favor of the ban. While I’ve always supported both of them, I’m a bit disappointed by their support for this bill. Note that I’m not and have never been a smoker.

Have they lost faith in the free market system? Do they not believe that bar owners should have the right to decide how to run their business? Why can’t they leave it up to the folks to decide whether they want to be patrons of such establishments? Have they forgotten that we don’t need big Government to babysit us at every turn?

I for one would certainly love to hear their reasoning behind this vote.

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